Last week the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) announced the upcoming restriction of changing lanes in the Howell Street corridor for traffic headed to southbound I-5. The weather this week is delaying the installation of pavement markings, however, and now the restriction is expected to take effect sometime next week, weather permitting.
The purpose of the restriction is to clear up a significant choke point for afternoon traffic leaving downtown Seattle—to improve the flow of traffic and to improve the speed and reliability of transit buses in the corridor.
Currently, traffic on Howell that is waiting to turn right at Yale Avenue onto the southbound I-5 ramp can cause significant delays for buses and other traffic. By requiring all eastbound traffic on Howell that is turning right to southbound I-5 to be in the right-hand lane well in advance of the ramp, the second lane can be kept moving for transit and other traffic. Drivers will no longer be able to stop in the second lane in order to cut into the front of the line of right-turning traffic, backing up traffic behind them.
SDOT will install two solid white parallel lane lines, which are illegal to cross, between the two right-hand lanes on Howell from Boren Avenue to Yale Avenue. To call attention to the new lines, a row of delineator posts will be temporarily placed between the lanes (with breaks to allow for driveway access).
Traffic turning left onto Howell Streets from intersecting streets (from southbound Minor or Boren avenues) will be allowed into the eastbound right lane on Howell. Once on Howell, eastbound traffic between Boren and Yale will not be allowed to change lanes between the two right-hand lanes, so drivers headed for the southbound I-5 ramp, or intending to turn right at Boren or Minor avenues, should plan to be in the right-hand lane before they reach Boren. Eastbound traffic on Howell will not be allowed to turn left onto Yale or Minor during the p.m. peak.
When markings and signage are in place and the restriction goes into effect, Uniformed Police Officers will be on site to assist drivers and to enforce the restriction on changing lanes.
For information: (206) 684-ROAD (684-7623)
Media contact: Marybeth Turner, (206) 684-8548